Starting with few qualifications

Improving your literacy, numeracy and IT skills

Before you apply for a course or employment, it may be worth brushing up on your basic skills. 

Certain skills – particularly literacy, numeracy and IT – are important no matter what you do in life and it’s never too late to improve them. If you have your sights set on degree level study in the future it's likely you will need to show a certain level of literacy and numeracy. 

If you’ve been out of learning for some time, you may have lost some of your confidence in your basic skills. Alternatively, you may feel that you never developed your literacy and numeracy as much as you would have liked. In the case of IT, things change rapidly, so it’s not surprising that a refresher is needed every now and then. 

The National Careers Service site offers a Skills Health Check tool to help you assess your current skills and identify which ones you need to improve.

You can take the National Numeracy Challenge to find out more about your level of maths skills and get lots of help with how to improve them.

Ways to develop your basic skills

  • Sign up to a free training course through the Government's Skills For Life Campaign including Multiply, a government-funded programme to help adults improve their numeracy skills.
  • In the Improve your skills section of Lifepilot, there are activities to help you develop the skills you need for studying at a higher education level.
  • Further education colleges offer various skills building courses, many of which lead to qualifications at different levels. Look at what's available at your local college.
  • Adult and Community Learning offer many courses, both accredited and non-accredited. See what qualifications are available in your local area
  • Learndirect offers a range of online courses including in English, maths and IT, some of which lead to nationally recognised qualifications. 
  • If you are employed and in a union, find out whether skills building courses are available through Unionlearn.

Basic skills courses are often free or subsidised; find out more on the GOV.UK website.

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